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1.  Electroporation of Functional Bacterial Effectors into Mammalian Cells 
The study of protein interactions in the context of living cells can generate critical information about localization, dynamics, and interacting partners. This information is particularly valuable in the context of host-pathogen interactions. Many pathogen proteins function within host cells in a variety of way such as, enabling evasion of the host immune system and survival within the intracellular environment. To study these pathogen-protein host-cell interactions, several approaches are commonly used, including: in vivo infection with a strain expressing a tagged or mutant protein, or introduction of pathogen genes via transfection or transduction. Each of these approaches has advantages and disadvantages. We sought a means to directly introduce exogenous proteins into cells. Electroporation is commonly used to introduce nucleic acids into cells, but has been more rarely applied to proteins although the biophysical basis is exactly the same. A standard electroporator was used to introduce affinity-tagged bacterial effectors into mammalian cells. Human epithelial and mouse macrophage cells were cultured by traditional methods, detached, and placed in 0.4 cm gap electroporation cuvettes with an exogenous bacterial pathogen protein of interest (e.g. Salmonella Typhimurium GtgE). After electroporation (0.3 kV) and a short (4 hr) recovery period, intracellular protein was verified by fluorescently labeling the protein via its affinity tag and examining spatial and temporal distribution by confocal microscopy. The electroporated protein was also shown to be functional inside the cell and capable of correct subcellular trafficking and protein-protein interaction. While the exogenous proteins tended to accumulate on the surface of the cells, the electroporated samples had large increases in intracellular effector concentration relative to incubation alone. The protocol is simple and fast enough to be done in a parallel fashion, allowing for high-throughput characterization of pathogen proteins in host cells including subcellular targeting and function of virulence proteins.
PMCID: PMC4331347  PMID: 25650771
Immunology; Issue 95; electroporation; protein; transfection; expression; localization; confocal microscopy; Salmonella; effector
2.  Structural and Molecular Basis for Resistance to Aminoglycoside Antibiotics by the Adenylyltransferase ANT(2″)-Ia 
mBio  2015;6(1):e02180-14.
The aminoglycosides are highly effective broad-spectrum antimicrobial agents. However, their efficacy is diminished due to enzyme-mediated covalent modification, which reduces affinity of the drug for the target ribosome. One of the most prevalent aminoglycoside resistance enzymes in Gram-negative pathogens is the adenylyltransferase ANT(2″)-Ia, which confers resistance to gentamicin, tobramycin, and kanamycin. Despite the importance of this enzyme in drug resistance, its structure and molecular mechanism have been elusive. This study describes the structural and mechanistic basis for adenylylation of aminoglycosides by the ANT(2″)-Ia enzyme. ANT(2″)-Ia confers resistance by magnesium-dependent transfer of a nucleoside monophosphate (AMP) to the 2″-hydroxyl of aminoglycoside substrates containing a 2-deoxystreptamine core. The catalyzed reaction follows a direct AMP transfer mechanism from ATP to the substrate antibiotic. Central to catalysis is the coordination of two Mg2+ ions, positioning of the modifiable substrate ring, and the presence of a catalytic base (Asp86). Comparative structural analysis revealed that ANT(2″)-Ia has a two-domain structure with an N-terminal active-site architecture that is conserved among other antibiotic nucleotidyltransferases, including Lnu(A), LinB, ANT(4′)-Ia, ANT(4″)-Ib, and ANT(6)-Ia. There is also similarity between the nucleotidyltransferase fold of ANT(2″)-Ia and DNA polymerase β. This similarity is consistent with evolution from a common ancestor, with the nucleotidyltransferase fold having adapted for activity against chemically distinct molecules.
Importance   To successfully manage the threat associated with multidrug-resistant infectious diseases, innovative therapeutic strategies need to be developed. One such approach involves the enhancement or potentiation of existing antibiotics against resistant strains of bacteria. The reduction in clinical usefulness of the aminoglycosides is a particular problem among Gram-negative human pathogens, since there are very few therapeutic options for infections caused by these organisms. In order to successfully circumvent or inhibit the activity of aminoglycoside-modifying enzymes, and to thus rejuvenate the activity of the aminoglycoside antibiotics against Gram-negative pathogens, structural and mechanistic information is crucial. This study reveals the structure of a clinically prevalent aminoglycoside resistance enzyme [ANT(2″)-Ia] and depicts the molecular basis underlying modification of antibiotic substrates. Combined, these findings provide the groundwork for the development of broad-spectrum inhibitors against antibiotic nucleotidyltransferases.
To successfully manage the threat associated with multidrug-resistant infectious diseases, innovative therapeutic strategies need to be developed. One such approach involves the enhancement or potentiation of existing antibiotics against resistant strains of bacteria. The reduction in clinical usefulness of the aminoglycosides is a particular problem among Gram-negative human pathogens, since there are very few therapeutic options for infections caused by these organisms. In order to successfully circumvent or inhibit the activity of aminoglycoside-modifying enzymes, and to thus rejuvenate the activity of the aminoglycoside antibiotics against Gram-negative pathogens, structural and mechanistic information is crucial. This study reveals the structure of a clinically prevalent aminoglycoside resistance enzyme [ANT(2″)-Ia] and depicts the molecular basis underlying modification of antibiotic substrates. Combined, these findings provide the groundwork for the development of broad-spectrum inhibitors against antibiotic nucleotidyltransferases.
PMCID: PMC4313920  PMID: 25564464
3.  Structure-Based Mutational Studies of Substrate Inhibition of Betaine Aldehyde Dehydrogenase BetB from Staphylococcus aureus 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2014;80(13):3992-4002.
Inhibition of enzyme activity by high concentrations of substrate and/or cofactor is a general phenomenon demonstrated in many enzymes, including aldehyde dehydrogenases. Here we show that the uncharacterized protein BetB (SA2613) from Staphylococcus aureus is a highly specific betaine aldehyde dehydrogenase, which exhibits substrate inhibition at concentrations of betaine aldehyde as low as 0.15 mM. In contrast, the aldehyde dehydrogenase YdcW from Escherichia coli, which is also active against betaine aldehyde, shows no inhibition by this substrate. Using the crystal structures of BetB and YdcW, we performed a structure-based mutational analysis of BetB and introduced the YdcW residues into the BetB active site. From a total of 32 mutations, those in five residues located in the substrate binding pocket (Val288, Ser290, His448, Tyr450, and Trp456) greatly reduced the substrate inhibition of BetB, whereas the double mutant protein H448F/Y450L demonstrated a complete loss of substrate inhibition. Substrate inhibition was also reduced by mutations of the semiconserved Gly234 (to Ser, Thr, or Ala) located in the BetB NAD+ binding site, suggesting some cooperativity between the cofactor and substrate binding sites. Substrate docking analysis of the BetB and YdcW active sites revealed that the wild-type BetB can bind betaine aldehyde in both productive and nonproductive conformations, whereas only the productive binding mode can be modeled in the active sites of YdcW and the BetB mutant proteins with reduced substrate inhibition. Thus, our results suggest that the molecular mechanism of substrate inhibition of BetB is associated with the nonproductive binding of betaine aldehyde.
PMCID: PMC4054205  PMID: 24747910
4.  Multiple Influenza A (H3N2) Mutations Conferring Resistance to Neuraminidase Inhibitors in a Bone Marrow Transplant Recipient 
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy  2014;58(12):7188-7197.
Immunocompromised patients are predisposed to infections caused by influenza virus. Influenza virus may produce considerable morbidity, including protracted illness and prolonged viral shedding in these patients, thus prompting higher doses and prolonged courses of antiviral therapy. This approach may promote the emergence of resistant strains. Characterization of neuraminidase (NA) inhibitor (NAI)-resistant strains of influenza A virus is essential for documenting causes of resistance. In this study, using quantitative real-time PCR along with conventional Sanger sequencing, we identified an NAI-resistant strain of influenza A (H3N2) virus in an immunocompromised patient. In-depth analysis by deep gene sequencing revealed that various known markers of antiviral resistance, including transient R292K and Q136K substitutions and a sustained E119K (N2 numbering) substitution in the NA protein emerged during prolonged antiviral therapy. In addition, a combination of a 4-amino-acid deletion at residues 245 to 248 (Δ245-248) accompanied by the E119V substitution occurred, causing resistance to or reduced inhibition by NAIs (oseltamivir, zanamivir, and peramivir). Resistant variants within a pool of viral quasispecies arose during combined antiviral treatment. More research is needed to understand the interplay of drug resistance mutations, viral fitness, and transmission.
PMCID: PMC4249562  PMID: 25246391
5.  Toroidal structure and DNA cleavage by the CRISPR-associated [4Fe-4S]-cluster containing Cas4 nuclease SSO0001 from Sulfolobus solfataricus 
Journal of the American Chemical Society  2013;135(46):17476-17487.
Cas4 proteins, a core protein family associated with the microbial system of adaptive immunity CRISPR, are predicted to function in the adaptation step of the CRISPR mechanism. Here we show that the Cas4 protein SSO0001 from the archaeon Sulfolobus solfataricus has metal-dependent endonuclease and 5' to 3' exonuclease activities against single-stranded DNA, as well as ATP-independent DNA unwinding activity toward double-stranded DNA. The crystal structure of SSO0001 revealed a decameric toroid formed by five dimers with each protomer containing one [4Fe-4S] cluster and one Mn2+ ion bound in the active site located inside the internal tunnel. The conserved RecB motif and four Cys residues are important for DNA binding and cleavage activities, whereas DNA unwinding depends on several residues located near the [4Fe-4S]-cluster. Our results suggest that Cas4 proteins might contribute to the addition of novel CRISPR spacers through the formation of 3'-DNA overhangs and to the degradation of foreign DNA.
PMCID: PMC3889865  PMID: 24171432
CRISPR interference; Cas4; exonuclease; RecB motif; [4Fe-4S] cluster
6.  The CRISPR-associated Cas4 protein Pcal_0546 from Pyrobaculum calidifontis contains a [2Fe-2S] cluster: crystal structure and nuclease activity 
Nucleic Acids Research  2014;42(17):11144-11155.
Cas4 nucleases constitute a core family of CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) associated proteins, but little is known about their structure and activity. Here we report the crystal structure of the Cas4 protein Pcal_0546 from Pyrobaculum calidifontis, which revealed a monomeric protein with a RecB-like fold and one [2Fe-2S] cluster coordinated by four conserved Cys residues. Pcal_0546 exhibits metal-dependent 5′ to 3′ exonuclease activity against ssDNA substrates, whereas the Cas4 protein SSO1391 from Sulfolobus solfataricus can cleave ssDNA in both the 5′ to 3′ and 3′ to 5′ directions. The active site of Pcal_0546 contains a bound metal ion coordinated by the side chains of Asp123, Glu136, His146, and the main chain carbonyl of Ile137. Site-directed mutagenesis of Pcal_0546 and SSO1391 revealed that the residues of RecB motifs II, III and QhXXY are critical for nuclease activity, whereas mutations of the conserved Cys residues resulted in a loss of the iron-sulfur cluster, but had no effect on DNA cleavage. Our results revealed the biochemical diversity of Cas4 nucleases, which can have different oligomeric states, contain [4Fe-4S] or [2Fe-2S] clusters, and cleave single stranded DNA in different directions producing single-stranded DNA overhangs, which are potential intermediates for the synthesis of new CRISPR spacers.
PMCID: PMC4176176  PMID: 25200083
7.  Structure-guided optimization of protein kinase inhibitors reverses aminoglycoside antibiotic resistance 
The Biochemical journal  2013;454(2):191-200.
Activity of the aminoglycoside phosphotransferase APH(3’)-Ia leads to resistance to aminoglycoside antibiotics in pathogenic Gram-negative bacteria, and contributes to the clinical obsolescence of this class of antibiotics. One strategy to rescue compromised antibiotics such as aminoglycosides is targeting the enzymes that confer resistance with small molecules. Previously we demonstrated that eukaryotic protein kinase (ePK) inhibitors could inhibit APH enzymes, due to the structural similarity between these two enzyme families. However, limited structural information of enzyme-inhibitor complexes hindered interpretation of the results. As well, cross-reactivity of compounds between APHs and ePKs represents an obstacle to their use as aminoglycoside adjuvants to rescue aminoglycoside antibiotic activity. Here, we structurally and functionally characterize inhibition of APH(3’)-Ia by three diverse chemical scaffolds – anthrapyrazolone, 4-anilinoquinazoline and pyrazolopyrimidine (PP) – and reveal distinctions in the binding mode of anthrapyrazolone and PP compounds to APH(3’)-Ia versus ePKs. Using this observation, we identify PP-derivatives that select against ePKs, attenuate APH(3’)-Ia activity and rescue aminoglycoside antibiotic activity against a resistant E. coli strain. The structures presented here and these inhibition studies provide an important opportunity for structure-based design of compounds to target aminoglycoside phosphotransferases for inhibition, potentially overcoming this form of antibiotic resistance.
PMCID: PMC3743924  PMID: 23758273
antibiotic resistance; aminoglycoside phosphotransferase APH(3’)-Ia; protein kinase inhibitor; structure-based drug design; crystal structure
8.  Structure and activity of the cold-active and anion-activated carboxyl esterase OLEI01171 from the oil-degrading marine bacterium Oleispira antarctica 
The Biochemical journal  2012;445(2):193-203.
The uncharacterized α/β-hydrolase protein OLEI01171 from the psychrophilic marine bacterium Oleispira antarctica belongs to the PF00756 family of putative esterases, which also includes human esterase D. In the present paper we show that purified recombinant OLEI01171 exhibits high esterase activity against the model esterase substrate α-naphthyl acetate at 5 – 30°C with maximal activity at 15–20°C. The esterase activity of OLEI01171 was stimulated 3–8-fold by the addition of chloride or several other anions (0.1–1.0 M). Compared with mesophilic PF00756 esterases, OLEI01171 exhibited a lower overall protein thermostability. Two crystal structures ofOLEI01171 were solved at 1.75 and 2.1 Å resolution and revealed a classical serine hydrolase catalytic triad and the presence of a chloride or bromide ion bound in the active site close to the catalytic Ser148.Both anions were found to co-ordinate a potential catalytic water molecule located in the vicinity of the catalytic triad His257. The results of the present study suggest that the bound anion perhaps contributes to the polarization of the catalytic water molecule and increases the rate of the hydrolysis of an acyl-enzyme intermediate. Alanine replacement mutagenesis of OLEI01171 identified ten amino acid residues important for esterase activity. The replacement of Asn225 by lysine had no significant effect on the activity or thermostability of OLEI01171, but resulted in a detectable increase of activity at 35–45°C. The present study has provided insight into the molecular mechanisms of activity of a cold-active and anion-activated carboxyl esterase.
PMCID: PMC4127636  PMID: 22519667
anion activation; carboxyl esterase; cold-active enzyme; crystal structure; Oleispira antarctica; protein thermostability
9.  Structural and Functional Characterization of DUF1471 Domains of Salmonella Proteins SrfN, YdgH/SssB, and YahO 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e101787.
Bacterial species in the Enterobacteriaceae typically contain multiple paralogues of a small domain of unknown function (DUF1471) from a family of conserved proteins also known as YhcN or BhsA/McbA. Proteins containing DUF1471 may have a single or three copies of this domain. Representatives of this family have been demonstrated to play roles in several cellular processes including stress response, biofilm formation, and pathogenesis. We have conducted NMR and X-ray crystallographic studies of four DUF1471 domains from Salmonella representing three different paralogous DUF1471 subfamilies: SrfN, YahO, and SssB/YdgH (two of its three DUF1471 domains: the N-terminal domain I (residues 21–91), and the C-terminal domain III (residues 244–314)). Notably, SrfN has been shown to have a role in intracellular infection by Salmonella Typhimurium. These domains share less than 35% pairwise sequence identity. Structures of all four domains show a mixed α+β fold that is most similar to that of bacterial lipoprotein RcsF. However, all four DUF1471 sequences lack the redox sensitive cysteine residues essential for RcsF activity in a phospho-relay pathway, suggesting that DUF1471 domains perform a different function(s). SrfN forms a dimer in contrast to YahO and SssB domains I and III, which are monomers in solution. A putative binding site for oxyanions such as phosphate and sulfate was identified in SrfN, and an interaction between the SrfN dimer and sulfated polysaccharides was demonstrated, suggesting a direct role for this DUF1471 domain at the host-pathogen interface.
PMCID: PMC4092069  PMID: 25010333
10.  Structure of the LdcB LD-Carboxypeptidase Reveals the Molecular Basis of Peptidoglycan Recognition 
Structure(London, England:1993)  2014;22(7):949-960.
Peptidoglycan surrounds the bacterial cytoplasmic membrane to protect the cell against osmolysis. The biosynthesis of peptidoglycan, made of glycan strands crosslinked by short peptides, is the target of antibiotics like β-lactams and glycopeptides. Nascent peptidoglycan contains pentapeptides that are trimmed by carboxypeptidases to tetra- and tripeptides. The well-characterized DD-carboxypeptidases hydrolyze the terminal D-alanine from the stem pentapeptide to produce a tetrapeptide. However, few LD-carboxypeptidases that produce tripeptides have been identified, and nothing is known about substrate specificity in these enzymes. We report biochemical properties and crystal structures of the LD-carboxypeptidases LdcB from Streptococcus pneumoniae, Bacillus anthracis, and Bacillus subtilis. The enzymes are active against bacterial cell wall tetrapeptides and adopt a zinc-carboxypeptidase fold characteristic of the LAS superfamily. We have also solved the structure of S. pneumoniae LdcB with a product mimic, elucidating the residues essential for peptidoglycan recognition and the conformational changes that occur on ligand binding.
•A peptidoglycan, peptide stem-trimming carboxypeptidase, LdcB, has been characterized•The crystal structure of LdcB has been solved with a peptidoglycan mimic bound•The LdcB structure undergoes significant conformational change on binding ligand•The exquisite substrate specificity of LdcB has also been demonstrated in vitro
Peptidoglyan is an essential layer surrounding the bacterial cytoplasmic membrane that is matured and trimmed by carboxypeptidases. Hoyland et al. describe the structure of one such carboxypeptidase in the presence of a product mimic, explaining the molecular specificity of the enzyme family.
PMCID: PMC4087270  PMID: 24909784
11.  Cyclic-nucleotide-gated channels mediate synaptic feedback by nitric oxide 
Nature  1997;390(6661):10.1038/37803.
Cyclic-nucleotide-gated (CNG) channels in outer segments of vertebrate photoreceptors generate electrical signals in response to changes in cyclic GMP concentration during phototransduction1. CNG channels also allow the influx of Ca2+, which is essential for photoreceptor adaptation2. In cone photoreceptors, cGMP triggers an increase in membrane capacitance indicative of exocytosis, suggesting that CNG channels are also involved in synaptic function3. Here we examine whether CNG channels reside in cone terminals and whether they regulate neurotransmitter release, specifically in response to nitric oxide (NO), a retrograde transmitter that increases cGMP synthesis and potentiates synaptic transmission in the brain4–6. Using intact retina, we show that endogenous NO modulates synapses between cones and horizontal cells. In experiments on isolated cones, we show directly that CNG channels occur in clusters and are indirectly activated by S-nitrosocysteine (SNC), an NO donor. Furthermore, both SNC and pCPT–cGMP, a membrane-permeant analogue of cGMP, trigger the release of transmitter from the cone terminals. The NO-induced transmitter release is suppressed by guanylate cyclase inhibitors and prevented by direct activation of CNG channels, indicating that their activation is required for NO to elicit release. These results expand our view of CNG channel function to include the regulation of synaptic transmission and mediation of the presynaptic effects of NO.
PMCID: PMC3858101  PMID: 9414163
12.  Structure and activity of the Pseudomonas aeruginosa hotdog-fold thioesterases PA5202 and PA2801 
The Biochemical journal  2012;444(3):10.1042/BJ20112032.
The hotdog fold is one of the basic protein folds widely present in bacteria, archaea, and eukaryotes. Many of these proteins exhibit thioesterase activity against fatty acyl-CoAs and play important roles in lipid metabolism, cellular signaling, and degradation of xenobiotics. The genome of the opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa contains over 20 genes encoding predicted hotdog-fold proteins, none of which have been experimentally characterized. We have found that two P. aeruginosa hotdog proteins display high thioesterase activity against 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-CoA and glutaryl-CoA (PA5202), and octanoyl-CoA (PA2801). Crystal structures of these proteins were solved (1.70 and 1.75 Å) and revealed a hotdog fold with a potential catalytic carboxylate residue located on the long alpha helix (Asp57 in PA5202 and Glu35 in PA2801). Alanine replacement mutagenesis of PA5202 identified four residues (Asn42, Arg43, Asp57, and Thr76), which are critical for activity and are located in the active site. A P. aeruginosa PA5202 deletion strain showed an increased secretion of the antimicrobial pigment pyocyanine and an increased expression of genes involved in pyocyanin biosynthesis suggesting a functional link between the PA5202 activity and pyocyanin production. Thus, the P. aeruginosa hotdog thioesterases PA5202 and PA2801 have similar structures, but exhibit different substrate preferences and functions.
PMCID: PMC3836677  PMID: 22439787
hotdog fold; thioesterase; crystal structure; pyocyanin; Pseudomonas aeruginosa
13.  Biochemical and Structural Studies of Conserved Maf Proteins Revealed Nucleotide Pyrophosphatases with a Preference for Modified Nucleotides 
Chemistry & Biology  2013;20(11):1386-1398.
Maf (for multicopy associated filamentation) proteins represent a large family of conserved proteins implicated in cell division arrest but whose biochemical activity remains unknown. Here, we show that the prokaryotic and eukaryotic Maf proteins exhibit nucleotide pyrophosphatase activity against 5-methyl-UTP, pseudo-UTP, 5-methyl-CTP, and 7-methyl-GTP, which represent the most abundant modified bases in all organisms, as well as against canonical nucleotides dTTP, UTP, and CTP. Overexpression of the Maf protein YhdE in E. coli cells increased intracellular levels of dTMP and UMP, confirming that dTTP and UTP are the in vivo substrates of this protein. Crystal structures and site-directed mutagenesis of Maf proteins revealed the determinants of their activity and substrate specificity. Thus, pyrophosphatase activity of Maf proteins toward canonical and modified nucleotides might provide the molecular mechanism for a dual role of these proteins in cell division arrest and house cleaning.
Graphical Abstract
•Maf proteins represent a family of nucleoside triphosphate pyrophosphatases•Maf proteins hydrolyze the canonical nucleotides dTTP, UTP, and CTP•Maf proteins are also active against m5UTP, m5CTP, pseudo-UTP, and m7GTP•Maf structures reveal the molecular mechanisms of their substrate selectivity
Tchigvintsev et al. show that Maf proteins are a family of nucleotide pyrophosphatases active against both canonical and modified nucleotides. This suggests that Mafs might have a dual role in cell division and in the prevention of the incorporation of modified nucleotides into cellular nucleic acids.
PMCID: PMC3899018  PMID: 24210219
14.  Structure of a short-chain dehydrogenase/reductase from Bacillus anthracis  
The crystal structure of a short-chain dehydrogenase/reductase from B. anthracis strain ‘Ames Ancestor’ is reported.
The crystal structure of a short-chain dehydrogenase/reductase from Bacillus anthracis strain ‘Ames Ancestor’ complexed with NADP has been determined and refined to 1.87 Å resolution. The structure of the enzyme consists of a Rossmann fold composed of seven parallel β-strands sandwiched by three α-­helices on each side. An NADP molecule from an endogenous source is bound in the conserved binding pocket in the syn conformation. The loop region responsible for binding another substrate forms two perpendicular short helices connected by a sharp turn.
PMCID: PMC3370898  PMID: 22684058
short-chain dehydrogenases/reductases; NADP; Bacillus anthracis
15.  Structural analysis of HopPmaL reveals the presence of a second adaptor domain common to the HopAB family of Pseudomonas syringae type III effectors 
Biochemistry  2011;51(1):1-3.
HopPmaL is a member of the HopAB family of type 3 effectors present in the phytopathogen Pseudomonas syringae. Using both X-ray crystallography and solution NMR, we demonstrate that HopPmaL contains two structurally homologous yet functionally distinct domains. The N-terminal domain corresponds to the previously-described Pto-binding domain, while the previously uncharacterised C-terminal domain spans residues 308 to 385. While structurally similar these domains do not share significant sequence similarity and most importantly demonstrate significant differences in key residues involved in host protein recognition suggesting that each of them targets a different host protein.
PMCID: PMC3656468  PMID: 22191472
16.  Structural and functional insight into the universal stress protein family 
Evolutionary Applications  2013;6(3):434-449.
We present the crystal structures of two universal stress proteins (USP) from Archaeoglobus fulgidus and Nitrosomonas europaea in both apo- and ligand-bound forms. This work is the first complete synthesis of the structural properties of 26 USP available in the Protein Data Bank, over 75% of which were determined by structure genomics centers with no additional information provided. The results of bioinformatic analyses of all available USP structures and their sequence homologs revealed that these two new USP structures share overall structural similarity with structures of USPs previously determined. Clustering and cladogram analyses, however, show how they diverge from other members of the USP superfamily and show greater similarity to USPs from organisms inhabiting extreme environments. We compared them with other archaeal and bacterial USPs and discuss their similarities and differences in context of structure, sequential motifs, and potential function. We also attempted to group all analyzed USPs into families, so that assignment of the potential function to those with no experimental data available would be possible by extrapolation.
PMCID: PMC3673472  PMID: 23745136
Archaeoglobus fulgidus; crystal structures; Nitrosomonas europaea; pathogens; sequence analyses; structural comparison; structural genomics; universal stress protein
17.  Crystal structure of a putative isochorismatase hydrolase from Oleispira antarctica 
Isochorismatase-like hydrolases (IHL) constitute a large family of enzymes divided into five structural families (by SCOP). IHLs are crucial for siderophore-mediated ferric iron acquisition by cells. Knowledge of the structural characteristics of these molecules will enhance the understanding of the molecular basis of iron transport, and perhaps resolve which of the mechanisms previously proposed in the literature is the correct one.
We determined the crystal structure of the apo-form of a putative isochorismatase hydrolase OaIHL (PDB code: 3LQY) from the antarctic γ-proteobacterium Oleispira antarctica, and did comparative sequential and structural analysis of its closest homologs. The characteristic features of all analyzed structures were identified and discussed. We also docked isochorismate to the solved crystal structure by in silico methods, to highlight the interactions of the active center with the substrate.
The putative isochorismate hydrolase OaIHL from Oleispira antarctica possesses the typical catalytic triad for IHL proteins. Its active center resembles those IHLs with a D-K-C catalytic triad, rather than those variants with a D-K-X triad. OaIHL shares some structural and sequential features with other members of the IHL superfamily. In silico docking results showed that despite small differences in active site composition, isochorismate binds to in the structure of OaIHL in a similar mode to its binding in phenazine biosynthesis protein PhzD (PDB code 1NF8).
PMCID: PMC3328404  PMID: 22350524
iron uptake; isochorismatase hydrolases; structural comparison of isochorismatases; structural genomics
18.  Structural characterization of H. pylori dethiobiotin synthetase reveals differences between family members 
The FEBS journal  2012;279(6):1093-1105.
Dethiobiotin synthetase (DTBS) is involved in the biosynthesis of biotin in bacteria, fungi and plants. As humans lack this pathway, dethiobiotin synthetase is a promising antimicrobial drug target. We determined structures of DBTS from H. pylori (hpDTBS) bound with cofactors and a substrate analog and described its unique characteristics relative to other DTBS proteins. Comparison with bacterial DTBS orthologues revealed considerable structural differences in nucleotide recognition. The C-terminal region of DTBS proteins, which contains two nucleotide-recognition motifs, greatly differs among DTBS proteins from different species. The structure of hpDTBS revealed that this protein is unique and does not contain a C-terminal region containing one of the motifs. The single nucleotide-binding motif in hpDTBS is similar to its counterpart in GTPases, however, ITC binding studies show that hpDTBS has a strong preference for ATP. The structural determinants of ATP specificity were assessed through X-ray crystallographic studies of hpDTBS:ATP and hpDTBS:GTP complexes. The unique mode of nucleotide recognition in hpDTBS makes this protein a good target for H. pylori-specific inhibitors of the biotin synthesis pathway.
PMCID: PMC3392494  PMID: 22284390
19.  A Pathogen Type III Effector with a Novel E3 Ubiquitin Ligase Architecture 
PLoS Pathogens  2013;9(1):e1003121.
Type III effectors are virulence factors of Gram-negative bacterial pathogens delivered directly into host cells by the type III secretion nanomachine where they manipulate host cell processes such as the innate immunity and gene expression. Here, we show that the novel type III effector XopL from the model plant pathogen Xanthomonas campestris pv. vesicatoria exhibits E3 ubiquitin ligase activity in vitro and in planta, induces plant cell death and subverts plant immunity. E3 ligase activity is associated with the C-terminal region of XopL, which specifically interacts with plant E2 ubiquitin conjugating enzymes and mediates formation of predominantly K11-linked polyubiquitin chains. The crystal structure of the XopL C-terminal domain revealed a single domain with a novel fold, termed XL-box, not present in any previously characterized E3 ligase. Mutation of amino acids in the central cavity of the XL-box disrupts E3 ligase activity and prevents XopL-induced plant cell death. The lack of cysteine residues in the XL-box suggests the absence of thioester-linked ubiquitin-E3 ligase intermediates and a non-catalytic mechanism for XopL-mediated ubiquitination. The crystal structure of the N-terminal region of XopL confirmed the presence of a leucine-rich repeat (LRR) domain, which may serve as a protein-protein interaction module for ubiquitination target recognition. While the E3 ligase activity is required to provoke plant cell death, suppression of PAMP responses solely depends on the N-terminal LRR domain. Taken together, the unique structural fold of the E3 ubiquitin ligase domain within the Xanthomonas XopL is unprecedented and highlights the variation in bacterial pathogen effectors mimicking this eukaryote-specific activity.
Author Summary
Numerous bacterial pathogens infecting plants, animals and humans use a common strategy of host colonization, which involves injection of specific proteins termed effectors into the host cell. Identification of effector proteins and elucidation of their individual functions is essential for our understanding of the pathogenesis process. Here, we identify a novel effector, XopL, from Xanthomonas campestris pv. vesicatoria, which causes disease in tomato and pepper plants. We show that XopL suppresses PAMP-related defense gene expression and further characterize XopL as an E3 ubiquitin ligase. This eukaryote-specific function involves attachment of ubiquitin molecule(s) to a particular protein targeted for degradation or localisation to specific cell compartments. Ubiquitination processes play a central role in cell-cycle regulation, DNA repair, cell growth and immune responses. In the case of XopL this activity triggers plant cell death. Through structural and functional analysis we demonstrate that XopL contains two distinct domains, one of which demonstrates a novel fold never previously observed in E3 ubiquitin ligases. This novel domain specifically interacts with plant ubiquitination system components. Our findings provide the first insights into the function of a previously unknown XopL effector and identify a new member of the growing family of bacterial pathogenic factors hijacking the host ubiquitination system.
PMCID: PMC3554608  PMID: 23359647
20.  Structural characterization and comparison of three acyl-carrier-protein synthases from pathogenic bacteria 
The structural characterization of acyl-carrier-protein synthase (AcpS) from three different pathogenic microorganisms is reported. One interesting finding of the present work is a crystal artifact related to the activity of the enzyme, which fortuitously represents an opportunity for a strategy to design a potential inhibitor of a pathogenic AcpS.
Some bacterial type II fatty-acid synthesis (FAS II) enzymes have been shown to be important candidates for drug discovery. The scientific and medical quest for new FAS II protein targets continues to stimulate research in this field. One of the possible additional candidates is the acyl-carrier-protein synthase (AcpS) enzyme. Its holo form post-translationally modifies the apo form of an acyl carrier protein (ACP), which assures the constant delivery of thioester intermediates to the discrete enzymes of FAS II. At the Center for Structural Genomics of Infectious Diseases (CSGID), AcpSs from Staphylococcus aureus (AcpSSA), Vibrio cholerae (AcpSVC) and Bacillus anthracis (AcpSBA) have been structurally characterized in their apo, holo and product-bound forms, respectively. The structure of AcpSBA is emphasized because of the two 3′,5′-adenosine diphosphate (3′,5′-ADP) product molecules that are found in each of the three coenzyme A (CoA) binding sites of the trimeric protein. One 3′,5′-ADP is bound as the 3′,5′-ADP part of CoA in the known structures of the CoA–AcpS and 3′,5′-ADP–AcpS binary complexes. The position of the second 3′,5′-ADP has never been described before. It is in close proximity to the first 3′,5′-­ADP and the ACP-binding site. The coordination of two ADPs in AcpSBA may possibly be exploited for the design of AcpS inhibitors that can block binding of both CoA and ACP.
PMCID: PMC3447402  PMID: 22993090
acyl-carrier-protein synthase; acyl carrier protein; type II fatty-acid synthesis; inhibition; 3′,5′-adenosine diphosphate; coenzyme A
21.  Structural analysis of a putative aminoglycoside N-acetyltransferase from Bacillus anthracis 
Journal of molecular biology  2011;410(3):411-423.
For the last decade, worldwide efforts for the treatment of anthrax infection have focused on developing effective vaccines. Patients that are already infected are still treated traditionally, using different types of standard antimicrobial agents. The most popular are antibiotics such as tetracyclines and fluoroquinolones. While aminoglycosides appear to be less effective antimicrobial agents than other antibiotics, synthetic aminoglycosides have been shown to act as potent inhibitors of anthrax lethal factor and may have potential application as antitoxins. Here, we present a structural analysis of the BA2930 protein, a putative aminoglycoside acetyltransferase, which may be a component of the bacterium’s aminoglycoside resistance mechanism. The determined structures revealed details of a fold characteristic only for one other protein structure in the PDB, namely YokD from Bacillus subtilis. Both BA2930 and YokD are members of the Antibiotic_NAT superfamily (PF02522). Sequential and structural analysis showed that residues conserved throughout the Antibiotic_NAT superfamily are responsible for the binding of the cofactor acetyl coenzyme A. The interaction of BA2930 with cofactors was characterized by both crystallographic and binding studies.
PMCID: PMC3131501  PMID: 21601576
Antibiotics resistance; Aminoglycoside N-acetyltransferase; Bacillus anthracis; AcCoA; crystal structure
22.  Riboneogenesis in yeast 
Cell  2011;145(6):969-980.
Gluconeogenesis converts three carbon units into glucose. Here we identify an analogous pathway in Saccharomyces cerevisiae for converting three carbon units into ribose, a component of nucleic acids and nucleotides. This riboneogenic pathway involves the enzyme sedoheptulose-1,7-bisphosphatase (SHB17), whose activity was identified based on accumulation of sedoheptulose-1,7-bisphosphate in the corresponding knockout strain. We determined the crystal structure of Shb17 in complex with sedoheptulose-1,7-bisphosphate, and found that the sugar is bound in the closed furan form in the active site. Like fructose-1,6-bisphosphate, sedoheptulose-1,7-bisphosphate is produced by aldolase, in this case from erythrose 4-phosphate and dihydroxyacetone phosphate. Hydrolysis of sedoheptulose-1,7-bisphosphate by SHB17 provides an energetically favorable input to the non-oxidative pentose phosphate pathway to drive ribose production. Flux through SHB17 is enhanced under conditions when ribose demand is high relative to demand for NADPH, including during ribosome biogenesis in metabolically synchronized yeast cells. Thus, riboneogenesis provides a thermodynamically-driven route of ribose production uncoupled from formation of NADPH.
PMCID: PMC3163394  PMID: 21663798
23.  The Crystal Structure of Escherichia coli MoaB Suggests a Probable Role in Molybdenum Cofactor Synthesis* 
The Journal of Biological Chemistry  2004;279(40):42139-42146.
The crystal structure of Escherichia coli MoaB was determined by multiwavelength anomalous diffraction phasing and refined at 1.6-Å resolution. The molecule displayed a modified Rossman fold. MoaB is assembled into a hexamer composed of two trimers. The monomers have high structural similarity with two proteins, MogA and MoeA, from the molybdenum cofactor synthesis pathway in E. coli, as well as with domains of mammalian gephyrin and plant Cnx1, which are also involved in molybdopterin synthesis. Structural comparison between these proteins and the amino acid conservation patterns revealed a putative active site in MoaB. The structural analysis of this site allowed to advance several hypothesis that can be tested in further studies.
PMCID: PMC3366512  PMID: 15269205
24.  Crystal structure of secretory protein Hcp3 from Pseudomonas aeruginosa 
The Type VI secretion pathway transports proteins across the cell envelope of Gram-negative bacteria. Pseudomonas aeruginosa, an opportunistic Gram-negative bacterial pathogen infecting humans, uses the type VI secretion pathway to export specific effector proteins crucial for its pathogenesis. The HSI-I virulence locus encodes for several proteins that has been proposed to participate in protein transport including the Hcp1 protein, which forms hexameric rings that assemble into nanotubes in vitro. Two Hcp1 paralogues have been identified in the P. aeruginosa genome, Hsp2 and Hcp3. Here, we present the structure of the Hcp3 protein from P. aeruginosa. The overall structure of the monomer resembles Hcp1 despite the lack of amino-acid sequence similarity between the two proteins. The monomers assemble into hexamers similar to Hcp1. However, instead of forming nanotubes in head-to-tail mode like Hcp1, Hcp3 stacks its rings in head-to-head mode forming double-ring structures.
PMCID: PMC3365581  PMID: 21476004
Type VI (T6SS) secretion system; Hcp3; Hcp1; X-ray crystallography; Structural genomics
25.  A dual function of the CRISPR-Cas system in bacterial antivirus immunity and DNA repair 
Molecular microbiology  2010;79(2):484-502.
Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPRs) and the associated proteins (Cas) comprise a system of adaptive immunity against viruses and plasmids in prokaryotes. Cas1 is a CRISPR-associated protein that is common to all CRISPR-containing prokaryotes but its function remains obscure. Here we show that the purified Cas1 protein of Escherichia coli (YgbT) exhibits nuclease activity against single-stranded and branched DNAs including Holliday junctions, replication forks, and 5′-flaps. The crystal structure of YgbT and site-directed mutagenesis have revealed the potential active site. Genome-wide screens show that YgbT physically and genetically interacts with key components of DNA repair systems, including recB, recC and ruvB. Consistent with these findings, the ygbT deletion strain showed increased sensitivity to DNA damage and impaired chromosomal segregation. Similar phenotypes were observed in strains with deletion of CRISPR clusters, suggesting that the function of YgbT in repair involves interaction with the CRISPRs. These results show that YgbT belongs to a novel, structurally distinct family of nucleases acting on branched DNAs and suggest that, in addition to antiviral immunity, at least some components of the CRISPR-Cas system have a function in DNA repair.
PMCID: PMC3071548  PMID: 21219465
Cas1; CRISPR; DNA recombination; DNA repair; nuclease; YgbT

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